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10 Study Hacks for Getting Better Grades

10 Study Hacks for Getting Better Grades

You know as well as anyone else that not every method for studying works the same for everyone. However, there are a number of tips to use in order to study better and get better grades. Ideally, you will use these hacks for studying through the whole year, and not just when exams come around. Try not to overload yourself with trying them all at once though. That said, some can be used hand-in-hand.

1. Utilize Caffeine

Caffeine aids in kicking the brain into gear for studying. It is most beneficial when used in small breaks throughout studying, rather than in one huge dose prior to studying. This will ensure that your brain gets continual kick starts, as opposed to one huge jolt followed by a dramatic crash.

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2. Talk to your Teachers

These are the people that make all of your tests, so take the time to talk with them. You will be able to gain insight into how they are thinking, allowing you to study in a way that will benefit you when taking tests. It won’t hurt to ask your teachers what they will be looking for on the test and find out exactly what you will need to study.

3. Use Mnemonic Strategies

Making up your own allow you to remember sequences and key concepts with ease. This does take a bit of time, but creating your own mnemonic devices is the difference between active learning and passive learning. This strategy has proven to improve an individual’s ability to remember. If you don’t want to make up your own, search the internet for some that relate to the subject that you are studying.

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4. Chew Gum When Studying

Studies have shown that when you chew gum, your focus and concentration are boosted. Don’t stop there! You can also chew gum while you are taking a test or exam. This forms a connection in the brain that will help you remember what you studied while you were chewing gum. This kind of study hack is called context dependency.

5. Block Out Distractions

Aim to avoid extraneous activities on your computer, tablet, or phone while studying. Try to turn them off and place them in another room. If you don’t have enough self-restraint, there are free apps that will restrict your access to specified websites for a predetermined amount of time.

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6. Tackle it in Small Portions

When there is a large portion of information that needs to be learned, break it down into smaller, more manageable portions. Don’t do it all at once. Rather, you should aim to learn a different portion each day. Furthermore, do not start a new portion until you have the current one down.

7. Try Studying in a New Space

Aim to switch up where you study every day. When you change studying spaces, it will force your brain to form new memories each time, making it more likely that you will retain the new material.

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8. Read Your Notes Out Loud

Read them out loud to yourself, with a friend, or even to your cat. When you speak and hear the words, it will help to reinforce the material in a new way. When you find a partner, this study hack will benefit both of you.

9. Read Before the Lecture

This is the best way to get the most out of your classes. It will reinforce the material—twice. It will also help you answer questions that your teacher poses to the class.

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10. Study with the Right Music

Unfamiliar music or ambient noise has the potential to boost productivity. Remember though, that familiar music has the potential to have the opposite effect. There are plenty of ways to find the right type of noise. Finding an internet radio station with instrumental music or video game soundtracks will do the trick.

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Sasha Brown

Seasoned Blogger

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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